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Team learning and service improvements in health care

George Boak (Business School, University of York St John, York, UK)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 5 August 2014




This study aims to propose a typology of team learning processes, based on a study of teams of health care therapists across England who were engaged in improving their services.


Information was gathered from 35 teams of health care therapists, through analysis of reports produced by the teams and by interviews with team leaders. The actions taken to achieve service improvements were analysed through a lens of team learning.


Team learning is an appropriate frame of reference for analysing actions designed to bring about change and improvement. Seven distinct team learning activities are defined.

Research limitations/implications

The implication of the study is that it is useful to apply a theoretical framework of organisational learning to service improvements undertaken by work teams. The study indicates learning processes that were important elements in these changes. The study limitation was that information was gathered mainly from the leaders of each team; other team members may have contributed different perceptions.

Practical implications

Leaders of organisations and of teams should adopt team learning as a useful perspective for improving services and should consider how to encourage and support team learning.


This is one of a small number of empirical studies of team learning processes in work organisations.



The author is grateful to Phil Eastburn, who conducted some of the interviews with team leaders, and to Navroz Amlani, Jernny Berry, Caroline Hart, Deanne Rennie, Susanne Selvadurai and Jane Speake, who commented on the findings.

The author was initially introduced to the teams that contributed information to this study by the Department of Health, England. The Department has not otherwise contributed to the resourcing of this study.


Boak, G. (2014), "Team learning and service improvements in health care", Team Performance Management, Vol. 20 No. 5/6, pp. 242-261.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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